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OK, the Gray Lady has weighed in on the state of the Johan Santana trade talks and it seems like we're at a stalemate right now. Here are the two offers on the table, first the Sox offer:

The Red Sox have apparently offered pitcher Jon Lester, center fielder Coco Crisp, the minor league shortstop Jed Lowrie and another minor league pitcher. The Twins have been insistent in trying to snare center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, a player Boston is unwilling to move.
And the Yankee offer:

The Yankees have offered pitcher Ian Kennedy, center fielder Melky Cabrera and at least one minor league prospect, perhaps outfielder José Tabata. In the trade discussions, the Yankees have told the Twins that pitcher Joba Chamberlain is untouchable and that they do not want to deal pitcher Phil Hughes.

I have to say I'm extremely pleased with the Yankee offer, and if Boston doesn't include Ellsbury, I think the Yankee offer is far and away the best on the table. I realize we're supposed to speak in hushed tones when discussing Lester, and I feel for all he's been through off the field, but on the field he is not a top-flight pitching prospect. He's been in the minors for parts of six seasons and accumulated a 32-31 record to go along with a 1.31 WHIP. Kennedy's minor-league numbers were amazing over 2 seasons and he dazzled when he got to the bigs last year.

Melky is more attractive than Coco Crisp as well. Crisp is owed $10.5M over the next two seasons, while that may be a relative bargain, he's not as cheap as Cabrera, nor is he cost-effective for as long. Crisp covers more ground in center, but his throwing arm rivals Johnny Damon's for worst in the league. Melky has a cannon.

Lowrie is a 23 year-old short stop who's put up good offensive numbers in his three years, for a short stop. Tabata's ceiling is much higher, but he's only 18 so who knows what he'll wind up being.

By no means is this list gospel, but to get an idea of what the Yanks are offering, vs. what the Sox are offering, check out Baseball America's top 100 prospects heading into the 2007 season. The Sox have 5 players on the list, not one of them is on the table right now. Tabata was number 27, Hughes was number 4. For more perspective, check out Baseball Prospectus' just-released ranking of Yankee farmhands.

The school of thought at this point seems to be whichever team blinks first and includes the coveted piece will get Santana. If I was Brian Cashman, I'd turn the tables a little bit. He has the best offer on the table right now, I'd start calling around to see who else the Yanks could land with that package. Kazmir, Bedard, Peavy and Haren have all been at least rumored to be available. Some of those guys would actually be preferable to Santana when you take the $150M price tag into consideration.

My only hope is that Brian Cashman stands firm with this offer at least as far as Kennedy and Hughes are concerned.  If Boston ponies up Ellsbury, more power to them. Turn your attention elsewhere.

If these rumors are accurate, there are only a few ways this whole situation can shake out and the outcome will tell us a lot about the future of this franchise (and the Twins, for that matter).
  1. Santana comes to NY for Melky, Kennedy and Tabata (or another minor league chip) - This would mean no one came along with a topper, the Sox didn't give in and the Twins are in their right mind.
  2. Santana goes to Boston for Ellsbury, Lester and a prospect - This would mean the Sox blinked. The Yanks would immediately become a huge underdog, but it will tell us that Brian Cashman (and Hank more importantly) is dedicated to building this team around the young arms of Joba and Hughes, popularity be damned. This would also be great news.
  3. Santana goes to Boston for Lester, Crisp and a prospect - This would mean the Twins management is made up of fools, idiots and morons. It would also mean the Yanks stood firm, see #2 for larger meaning.
  4. Santana goes to the Yanks for Hughes, Melky and a prospect - This would mean Cashman blinked first and who knows what we're in for in the Hammerin' Hank Era.
  5. Santana goes somewhere else for a king's ransom - C'est La Vie.